An e-newsletter is an essential tool in our studio's marketing efforts, giving our business a boost each time the newsletter is sent out. It can help drive traffic to our website and blog, which ultimately improves our Google ranking. The newsletter helps us attract new clients as well as stay in touch with past clients, who are our best source for word-of-mouth referrals. Every time we send out the newsletter, something wonderful happens.
We use Constant Contact to keep an online database of client names and emails. We collect emails from various sources, making sure that each new entry is legitimate and isn't going to be reported as spam. Constant Contact is very serious about spam lists and will boot offenders from their service if they detect too much of your mail is being reported as spam. Many newsletters ask their readers specifically not to report them as spam, but to simply opt out of an e-newsletter with the click of a button. (Of the 700 recipients of our last email, only one reported it as spam.)
Constant Contact makes it very easy to create and manage your database as well as create the email newsletters themselves. Everything is drag-and-drop and is fairly intuitive. The cost is cheap compared to a paper newsletter, which can't be tracked and is bad for the environment (most people throw away paper newsletters without ever even reading them).
Make your e-newsletter work
• Wow them in the beginning. Most inboxes are filled on a daily basis with spam and junk, which creates a very small window of opportunity to get the reader's attention. Similar to newspaper headlines, the title of each article in the newsletter should be catchy and fun, leading to content that's long enough so that it carries over to your website or blog. There should be a good reason for me to click on the "read more" link at the bottom of each newsletter entry.
• Don't send out a newsletter if you don't have sufficient content. We only send out three or four newsletters per year. Nothing is more annoying than getting 12 to 15 newsletters per year with no real content except for advertisements. I immediately add these newsletters to spam.
• Call to action. Give your readers something to click on so they always "click through" to your website or blog.
• Track your success. Constant Contact allows you to see statistics on how many people actually opened the email, who reported it as spam, and who clicked through to your blog or website. This can help you refine future newsletters to get higher click-through rates.
• Constantly add onto your list. Everyone you meet, every business card you collect, should get added to the database.
• Brand it. If it has your studio name on it, make it shine. The colors, logo, and fonts should all be consistent with your blog, website, and marketing materials.
We think of the e-newsletter like going fishing: You throw a line out, and the excitement is reeling in to see what you've caught. Like I said previously, each time we send out the newsletter, something positive happens: A former client will say hello and wish us well, a new student will inquire about our workshops, a friend of the studio will forward us along to someone who's getting married or who wants a family portrait.
The e-newsletter is an effective and simple tool to drive interest to your studio. It's easy to set up and maintain, and it costs very little versus a traditional paper newsletter. If we book even one wedding or portrait sitting, or if we get even one student who wants to attend a workshop, then we feel the newsletter was a worthy investment of our time and energy.
Jonathan Rubin (www.studionine.com) is the owner and head photographer of Studio Nine Photography, with locations in Philadelphia, PA and Los Angeles, CA.